"Sir, just like you requested, we brough three big pots, along with a group of men willing to work. As for the food, just like we expected, our neighbours refused to sell any."
Forcibly pulled apart from my dear child just as it was about to shine in this world for the very first time, I couldn't help but feel quite annoyed by this rotten timing of those villagers. They had so much time to come earlier, and they could literally come even an hour later, and I would already see the greatest obstacle on the road to industrialisation shattering and falling apart with my own eyes!
But now, instead of enjoying the fruits of my hard labour and investment, I had to deal with some plebs since they refused to deal with anyone but me as if fearing that my men would dare to go against my orders!
"Good, how much did you pay for the pots?"
According to the deal we had, for every coin they spent, I would pay two. Even though I knew how bad that deal was, I never expected them to provide me with anything of any real value, so I couldn't be really bothered with their problems.
Additionally, now that I had most likely a working steam horse, creating a simple blast furnace was just as simple as it could get, meaning that with just a little bit more effort, rather than using cooking pots, I could simply cast a proper concrete mixer!
But it went without saying that I did offer them this deal and asked them to provide some pots for me, so instead of trying to save some silly coins right now, I simply pulled out my pouch from my belt and looked up waiting for the elder to give his price.
"Yyy… eight groshes!"
Clearly staggering as if he couldn't decide whether to risk asking for such an exorbitant price or hesitating whether not to try his luck even more by claiming to pay even more. But rather than getting angry at him, I simply sent him an annoyed look of someone who was pulled away from his business.
"For all three of them, I assume?"
On the market, a single iron pot could go for two, maybe three groshes, yet this man was clearly claiming to pay about three times as much, and asking for double the amount! While I could accept a small cheat on his side as I understood that everyone was simply trying to make a living, seeing how he tried to rob me out of almost an entire red-golden in damned daylight, I would lose my own self-respect if I were to just accept it!
"Sir… Didn't you promise…"
"Yeah, I did promise and I will deliver. I just want you to keep in mind that I also send one of my men to ask around for how much did those pots go. Do I need to explain what will happen if the number you gave me and the number my man will report me won't match?"
While at first, I wanted to keep this ploy a small secret to make use of it later on, with my annoyance now shooting through the roof, I couldn't be bothered to play this kind of games with such a simple man.
With a visible fear building on the face of the villager, I could finally see how he acted when instead of having a group of his brethren behind him, he was in front of a huge mass of people ready to do my bidding at any given moment.
"We p-paid… one grosh for each…"
From one extreme to another, for God's sake! Even on the city markets when the prices could be lower than in the villages due to the simple fact that those pots were made there, no one would ever sell one for one grosh! Just the iron required to make one was worth as much, meaning that the man in front of me was most likely trying to just get his money back and return to the safety of his village.
Not willing to pay him any more of my mind, I pulled out twelve silver coins from my pouch and tossed them towards the scheming villager.
"About the men willing to work, how many did you bring?"
With the payment for the pots done, the villagers quickly placed them aside. Just one look was enough for me to realise that instead of using spare ones, the three containers they brought still had some leftover food in them. Just to be safe, I pulled out three more coins and tossed them at the man, before looking at him in a way that made it obvious I wanted to get my answer as soon as possible.
"From my village, there were twenty-seven…"
"In total, man! I'm kinda busy right here, so stop giving me half-truths and just tell whats going on."
Instead of wasting even more of my time on this stupid villager, I wanted to get this matter over with as soon as possible to get back to my dear steam horse.
"S-sir. I brought sixty-three men in total!"
Realising that my annoyance must come from the fact that I was busy rather than from how he attempted to cheat me, the villager suddenly changed his composure and finally answered the question in the way that could satisfy me.
"Good. As promised, each will receive a grosh per day of work. Since you guys came late today, you will work for the food you will eat. Now, get out of my sight!"
Finally freed from this annoying task, I summoned the two stonemasons that irked me a bit before, ordering them to turn those stupid villagers into a proper workforce, capable of helping out with our tasks.
While I was quite harsh on those villagers, in fact, they would be of great help! Used to the hard work, as soon as the task wouldn't be too complicated for them, the vision of earning an entire silver for a day should be enough for them to work their bottoms off!
"Now, let's finally get back to the…"
"Sir! The miners have returned from the mines!"